I promised this Harry Potter Starter Kit a long time ago.
I ran into two issues:
#1 - The minor problem that I am not the ultimate authority on Harry Potter fanfiction (though I've not been able to locate that person). I can't help but be biased towards, oh, say, humour and porn over dark angsty stuff, Action over Arte. For a while this stopped me because I wanted to be fair. I've given up on that.
#2 - I didn't have the time (or interest) to read stories in pairings and styles I didn't like. Accepting problem #1 dealt with this nicely.
So if your brilliant story or your favourite author isn't on this list, well, it's not a 'Best Of.' It's more like one of those biscuits tins with the drab boring shortbread sitting right next to something you hopefully like.
Note: thank you to Heidi Tandy for her hard work in maintaining Fiction Alley, that bastion of Harry Potter fanfic (you will hear about Fiction Alley in a moment), without which most of these stories would have scattered and disappeared. I'll be updating dead links for those stories not on Fiction Alley as soon as I can.
A Harry Potter Starter Kit
So you're new to Harry Potter fanfiction? I bet you've noticed there's no lack.
And there are character and pairing specific sites, as well as web sites for individual authors. There are also recommendations sites on LJ (like quickquote & daily_snitch), theme-related recommendations on Painless_J's journal, and many, many (many) Yahoo Groups.
You can probably tell I'm watching a Dean Martin Variety show ad while I'm writing this.
This Starter Kit is like a box of chocolates. Only a few stories of each type, so that you're not on your own to hunt and peck. I've deliberately selected just a couple for each to simplify, simplify, simplify.
Different people have different interests in Harry Potter fiction.
Some, the Purists, want more of what they get from J. K. Rowling.
Others boldly confess their Crush on the Harry Potter characters themselves. They want to see their lives beyond Hogwarts. These are your:
a) Het (heterosexual) and
b) Slash (homosexual) stories. Slash is immensely popular and is the main focus of this list.
All these stories can be Dark, Angst, Romance, Action/Adventure, you name it.
Others want to go straight to the Naughty Stuff. Porn. We respect your honesty, and I confess this was the easiest list for me to compile.
The Purist: You're insatiably looking for more Harry Potter stories. That's it. These should get you started:
The Art Of War by Hijja: Intro to Ron and Draco.
Tense and dark, Draco challenges Ron to a chess game, the nature of which Ron only slowly understands. This is a taut moral and ethical battle with outstanding characterisation, underlining the difference between good and evil, particularly when confronted with an impossible choice. Hijja's work has depth.
Draco, The Amazing Bouncing... Rat? by Maya: Intro to fandom Draco.
Wonderfully light and frivolous. I laughed all night reading this, and couldn't put it down. The pampered, neurotic, self-absorbed Draco Malfoy is accidentally transformed into a... rat? What follows is witty and hilarious. This is the perfect introduction to the fanfiction writers' interpretation of a more entertaining (and pleasant, if still obnoxious) Draco Malfoy.
The Lecture by Grindylowe: Intro to fandom Snape.
Who is the worst person you can imagine teaching Sex Ed? Yes, Severus Snape drew the short straw. Dripping with sarcasm and insults, Snape introduces his class to the facts of life. This truly is Snape at his best ('best' being from our perspective, not his hapless students).
Not Without My Reasons by Lady Jackyl: Intro to Percy stories.
An angry and imperious Percy down on his luck is given a second chance by his family. This is exactly how you would expect him to respond. I haven't read much of Lady Jackyl's work, but her characterisations are spot-on.
Durmstrang Chronicles by Loup Noir: Intro to the world of the OC, or Original Character
Highly original and complex, this is the political quagmire you'd expect the infamous Durmstrang to be. Only one HP character appears in this story, and that only briefly.
Call of the Wild by the WolfieTwins: Intro to fandom Remus.
A gothic novel, and one of the first full-length Harry Potter fanfiction stories. It answers the question: Where was Remus in the twelve years after James and Lily Potter were murdered? Set in Romania, the story is well-researched, layered and complex, dark but shot through with humour, insight, and bark-with-laughter one-liners. Most compelling is the authors' description of werewolf society based on their research in wolf pack behaviour (which is now fandom cliché, but completely new at the time). It teases you, jumping back and forth in time, a mesmerizing read. I only regret that it's Harry Potter fanfiction, because the concept is original enough to deserve to be sitting on bookshelves.
The Crush: It's time to confess. You have a crush on the Harry Potter characters themselves and want to see their lives beyond Hogwarts. Don't we all?
Slash is two of our favourite male characters together. Veddy nice. This is what I read and write (and live and breathe) and is the main focus of this list. I have for each pairing listed one relatively short story and one novel-length. For those pairings I don't tend to read or that are fairly rare, I may just have only one story.
Harry/Ron Close Enough by Helen
Ron realises that Harry's been seeing men, and that they're all redheads. He thinks he knows why. This classic Harry and Ron story does not make the mistake of falling into sappiness, nor does it ever forget that they are very much men (adults in this case). Nor does Helen pretend that being best friends does not translate into an easy relationship. Also, it has the bonus of beautifully characterised supporting characters (Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Draco are there) and the most believable description of what it's like working as an Auror I've ever seen -- right down to the shitty food, casual danger and bad hours.
Circles of Power by Mad Martha
Thank goodness Martha has finally remedied the lack of Harry and Ron novels in the fanfiction world. As Auror trainees, Harry and Ron come to grips with their secret (okay, it's sort of an open secret among their friends) relationship.
Harry/Draco After the Flood by Cassandra Claire
A richly complex, neurotic and somewhat cruel relationship between Harry and Draco. Malfoy, in all his selfish, inconsiderate glory, is at Harry's mercy at the end of a war: the one who cares the most gives everything. Harry's emotional state is completely believable, and the relationships between Harry, Ron, and Draco are poignant and strikingly real. Add to that Cassandra Claire's witty, funny dialogue, and you can't go wrong.
The Lodger by Mad Martha
A lonely post-war Harry Potter puts out an ad for a lodger... and guess who answers? It sounds like a perfect opening for a porno, but in Martha's capable hands this is a refreshing, well-plotted take on Harry and Draco. Harry, far from being the confident war hero, is slightly broken and at loose ends. His friends don't know what to do with him. Draco is similarly struggling and down on his luck. From the first moment, you know they need each other, even if they don't realise it. Bonus track: a very strong portrayal of Ron as Columbo-esque Auror (and typical husband). He's still Ron, but under that genial exterior he's as tough as nails.
Ron/Draco Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover by Mad Maudlin
A very kinky beginning leads to a complicated and predatory relationship between Ron and Draco. Mad Maudlin is one of the funniest authors of Harry Potter fanfiction because she sees the fine line between humour and pain -- her work has edge. So much of her characterisation comes through in her incisively funny dialogue that it could almost be re-written as a screenplay.
(The other one people voted in was my own Beg Me For It. But it's tacky to put my own story here. *cough* I confess to being tempted. *guilty grin*)
Harry/Snape The Familiar by Resonant
A very gentle, wry, and somehow too-real-to-be-romantic-yes-but-it-is story. In a twist on the classic fairy tale theme, Harry Potter is accidentally turned into a frog. Snape is stuck with him all summer. It's the gently observant humour that catches me. Little touches like Harry's 'ribbet': "Quidditch!" the frog said. A sense of peace and amusement pervades The Familiar, and it has the most tender and yet ordinary sex scenes you'll find anywhere.
The Tea Series by Telanu
It's Telanu. If you have any interest at all in reading Harry/Snape, you must read the one who wrote this pairing back when it was strange, inconceivable even. Snape has a guilty secret. This slow-build romance contains one of the sexiest Harry/Snape novels in the fandom, one that's fogged up my windows many times. I confess though, that the snarky pre-slash Corresponding remains my favourite.
Snape/Lupin The Way of the World by McKay
I don't what I like most about this story. Is it the sheer plausibility of Remus successfully disappearing - again? Or is it the fact that Snape here is truly an anti-social rude bastard -- and you can't help liking him anyway? Or the fact that you're rooting for these two lonely men to be together, no matter what? This is a very funny story set in the Muggle world, a type of HP fiction I don't generally read. I think it works for me because the Wizard-in-Muggleland isn't played for the laugh-track (though it is funny and observant). Instead it's a rather poignant observation that some aren't accepted in Wizarding England.
Remus/Sirius, a relationship that many feel is implied in the books. Door to the River by Minx*
*one of the three fics on this list I haven't read since I don't read the pairing. I trust both the author and the person who rec'd it. Minx has written many brilliantly characterised and sensual Harry/Snape stories, portraying a very adult and subtle relationship. I expect nothing less of her Remus/Sirius.
Snape/Sirius Oral Sex by Isis
Since I've never been able to see Sirius in a homosexual relationship, this is one of the few stories that sell me on the idea. Snape and Sirius drink and swear each other under the table.
Slowly And Exceeding Fine by Ellen Fremedon
*one of the three fics on this list I haven't read since I don't read the pairing. I trust both the author and the person who rec'd it. Ellen Fremedon is a powerful and observant author.
Snape/Lucius Sans Merci by Predatrix*
*one of the three fics on this list I haven't read since I don't read the pairing. I trust both the author and the person who rec'd it. Predatrix's Harry/Snape Both Sides Now is probably the best S/M Harry Potter fic out there, accurately rendered with both emotions and confusion of a new - and very inexperienced - D/S partnership. I expect nothing less of her Snape/Lucius.
Harry/Lucius Discretion Required by Rugozler
Funny and sexy, Harry and Lucius meet through a personal ad. They're surprisingly perfect for each other.
A Fragile Thing by Hijja
This story is far darker than my usual fare. Have something light-hearted near at hand as a chaser. Hijja however is as powerful as ever, exploring the cruel dark recesses of power and its abuse. Harry is captured by Lucius, but Lucius torment of him is far more vicious than you'd expect. Night Over Azkeban by Hijja also would be a good follow-up. A completely different take on Harry/Lucius. The two of them are forced to, uhm, cooperate. One wonders where exactly Lucius learned this steamy bit of Dark Magic.
Ron/Snape Aftermath by Josan
I generally loathe Hurt/Comfort stories, but Snape is incapable of being saccharine. You can see why a very deeply wounded Ron accepts both the help and the human dignity he offers. This story is touching and compelling. Better yet, Ron is still very much the blunt and forthright - and proud - man you'd expect him to be.
Draco/Neville Lust Over Pendle by A. J. Hall
This story isn't so much about Draco and Neville as it is about wit, the hypocritical wizard elite, and a fascinating mystery. Lovely rich stuff.
Snape/Draco As In A Dream by Nope
Yes, actually I believe Snape/Draco is canon. In Order of the Phoenix Draco casually steps into Snape's office as if he's there all the time, and Snape is clearly someone Draco cultivates as an important contact, if not more. So yes, indeed, I believe Nope's story. All it takes is a little less discipline on the professor's part.
Concupiscence by Femme and Isolde
No one writes Snape and Draco like these two. Draco is petty and neurotic. Snape is arrogant and irritable. And the two of them together are fascinatingly hot.
Fred/George Double Or Nothing Calico
This is hands down the hottest Harry Potter fanfic ever written in my opinion. The threesome sex is explicit and vivid, the differences between the twins clearly drawn, along with the competitive irreverence that gets them in trouble in the first place. The emotions that are galvanized in this cosmic mistake they're making seem all too real, and the flashbacks of history that built to this night give us a three dimensional picture. There's enough sex in this story to call it a PWP, but the layers Calico explores goes far beyond.
Percy/Lucius Impossible by Arkady
Of course by placing the story under this heading it gives away the surprise pairing, but this detracts not one iota from Percy's heart-pounding distress as this relationship grows increasingly dangerous, and he loves it. This story leaves you wanting more. Just like Percy.
Price of Wisdom by James Walkswithwind & Mad Poetess
Percy as a submissive learns more than he ever cared to know about one Lucius Malfoy. I never believed the familys acceptance of Percy, but it doesn't matter because I've never seen a better description of a submissive mindset.
(Here's another case where people recommended one of my own stories, An
Elegant Man. *restrains self*) And yes, both of these fics are also listed under S&M. Is it so surprising?
Percy/Harry Chance by Stella
Chance is extremely masculine and sensual, and I believe this chance encounter could really happen.
Tao of Job by Mad Maudlin
Even when she rushes to finish a novel in the space of a month, Mad Maudlin creates layered and insightful stories, and Tao of Job is no exception. It's the nature of Percy fanfic to glory seeing Percy out of control (and none too happy about it). Here Harry is a meteor streaming through Percy's life, dragging Percy with him. Percy's complaints to Penny are particularly funny, but what gives the story its power is the undercurrent of the former Harry/Ron relationship and what it implies that Harry is with Percy now.
Percy/Oliver Fight or Flight by Silvia
I loathe Percy/Oliver fics, usually because Oliver is grossly mischaracterised as a mellow everyman and perfect fantasy partner for Percy. Here however, Percy's buoyant over-confidence gets the two of them in trouble - and I believe it.
Percy/Snape Perquisite by Prillalar
It is so wrong what Snape does here, and they both know it and can't resist. Prillalar never disappears into fantasy land, never forgets what an abuse of power this is. An unusual take on the "detention with Snape" scenario, that shows us the twisted mindset behind a twisted... well, relationship would be a bit of an exaggeration, now wouldn't it?
Snape/Hagrid Pragmatic Magics by Isolde
I can't believe how... warm... this story is. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, it is Hagrid after all, and there is no one more capable of loving misunderstood, spiteful creatures. But fanfiction is usually so visual it often overlooks the obvious. Snape and Hagrid. Of course! But only this story could have convinced me so thoroughly.
My Het fics list is slim, because I rarely read them. But these should serve for a start:
Flame and Shadow by Maya. Ron/you won't believe how well it works so I won't tell you who
Maya's Ron is a man you have to love, and you completely understand him. His not-relationship is so perfect, you can't wait for the two of them to recognise (with horror no doubt) that they're together, and as crazy as it is, they're happy. This is Maya, so you can expect that it's damned funny, too, to the point of slapstick sometimes. When she nearly burns the kitchen down... (Icarus wipes away tears of laughter) "you didn't like your kitchen did you? No one could like a kitchen that ugly!"
The Draco Trilogy Cassandra Claire. Harry/Hermione, Draco/Ginny, undertones of ambiguous Harry/Draco
This is pure comic-book fun. The friendship between Harry and Draco is so intense it overshadows the Het pairings. So of course it goes on my het list!
Roman Holiday by Anna. Hermione/Draco, Hermione/Snape.
You won't care that this well-characterised Hermione is often accused of being a Mary Sue: Anna is witty and dynamic and her writing is always interesting and sensual.
Rain by Dien Alcyone. Snape/Hooch
This is an unusual one to recommend. Not only is the pairing rare, the story is not at all well known (though Dien is). What makes this story a must-read is that Dien's Hooch is formidable and a good match for Snape, and they are such good friends. Ah, what a bottle of whisky can do.
The Kink: you naughty thing. You want to go straight to the porn. Yeah, me too.
By the way, my estimation of those who maintain rec pages has just skyrocketed. This was a hell of a lot of work.
By the way, there are some great stories (say, Two Worlds And In Between by McTabby?) that are left off this list because they are incomplete. Let's not introduce readers to the torment that is the WiP right off.